Cheesecake and a Side of Whiplash
I was taking the kids out to the Cheesecake Factory over in Louisville when we were rear-ended by a short, bitter woman in the rain. She offered no apology, and tried to diminish the whole incident.
“Well, it’s just a tap,” she said, looking away from the freshly split bumper.
“I have a cyst on my brain stem,” I said. “This is not ‘Just a tap’ to me.”
It’s 3:27 a.m. and we all just got home. Brianna’s sleeping on the couch now. I haven’t been able to record my songs, or work on any photos lately. Algebra is frying my brain! I need a break so badly. Nevertheless, I have to push on.
In the ER, I was addressed by a man in a wheelchair. He was on his way to the dreaded 3rd floor (psych-ward). He’d gotten hooked on bathsalts and Lortabs- he was a mess; jittery and bouncy with decrepit looking eyes. He was rambling incessantly, at my feet- smacking the soles of my feet with his elbow, like we were old chums! He went on and on about how people he’d trusted had stabbed him in the back and messed up his whole life (and so on). I gave him a much-needed lecture on the power of forgiveness and why he needed to do it- regardless.
“You don’t have to hug them, or walk with them, or even talk to them again! Just do the work in your heart. Do it for you- and forgive yourself too. It’ll add years to your life and soften your heart. You need to do that,” I said to him.
“But you don’t understand!” He said. “I’m the laughing stock of my whole town now! They took away my business- my family turned their backs on me,” (Etc. etc.) “You don’t know what kind of hatred I have!”
“Sir,” I said, “20 years ago, the system took away my two little girls because of my evil x-mother-in-law. There were nights that I envisioned my hands around her neck choking the living daylights out of her. I hated her so much. My little girls never came home. I do know what kind of hatred you have. I understand.”
And with that, he lowered his eyes away from me and stared down at the floor. I knew that I had reached him.
“Think about what I’m saying to you. Take these words with you in your life- wherever you go. Contemplate them, and remember what I’m saying, ok? About forgiveness…”
The nurse came and rolled him away.
“Good luck, Sir,” I said.
After I sat there in silence, thinking about what we’d discussed, I realized exactly why I’m doing what I’m doing in school, and why I want so desperately to get my degree. Every report I write, and every Algebra problem I do- it’s another bandage on an old wound. As I told a nurse earlier this evening, “Education is my weapon.”
She actually thanked me for helping her on the floor as we were being discharged.